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By February 15, 2015 11 Comments Read More →

Sociopaths and Parental Alienation

He trained our children with Skittles.

Sometimes he used little wads of paper. Any time we were in public places together, like watching a game or something, my ex would take a napkin or a popcorn bag and tear it up and throw little pieces of it at them if they were sitting with me.

Or he’d buy a bag of Skittles and throw them, one at a time, giggling and smiling as he bounced them off the backs of their heads until they got up from their place beside me and moved over to sit with him.

Then he would let them relax.

It sounds miniscule. But that’s where parental alienation lives—in every miniscule detail. It’s not just in court—it’s also in the granular. In the point where a child finds peace. In the way a parent makes sure that a child only feels settled when sitting in the right place.

In our situation, any sitting was going to be with my ex. And if our children were with me in any place or on any level, he made sure they felt uncomfortable in ways that can’t easily be described. Because what was I going to tell their guardian or the attorneys who hated the concept of alienation in the first place—that my ex was alienating our children from me with Skittles?

I’d already said, “He’s not badmouthing me as much as he is inspiring them to hate me.”

And that sounded ridiculous to them. It got worse when I told them he was encouraging our children to burn everything I gave them. Instead of believing me or investigating further, they simply decided I was off.

(It’s amazing how people can make negative judgments about a person just based on that person’s proximity to someone who is doing insane or terrible things.)

Because his methods sounded too crazy to be real. But they were real. Even the burning—I found photos in my family’s shared photo cloud of burnt clothing I’d bought for them. I learned that their father built bonfires and encouraged them to burn or even shoot up any gifts or clothes or anything I gave them to prove that they wouldn’t be bought—that their mother couldn’t buy their love.

“Mom, you can’t buy our love.”

That got to me.

After a while, everything got to me. Watching him inspire them to hate me in a world that couldn’t see what he was doing and that shamed me if I tried to explain—now that’s an exercise in hopelessness.

That’s an exercise in despair.

But I kept talking to the attorneys and the guardian, anyway. I told them about Skittles and fires and the way he blocked my calls and told the kids I’d never called at all, “She must be off with some man again.” All of that, no matter how nutty or scrambled or low-class it sounded, all of it was what I needed people to know. I needed them to hear what he said and how clever he was. How he positioned himself as being on their side and clearly established that I was an ominous other.

“Daddy can’t even take us on vacation this year because you took all his money.”

“You lie, Mom. You lie. Dad shows me all your texts and how you lie to him.”

“Dad just wants us to be a family. You’re the one who ruined everything.”

“Dad said we’re a team. We stick up for each other.”

Or even:

“Daddy was burning my sheets on the bonfire and I was like crying and he said to go inside and be quiet because if I wasn’t going to stay with him more then I didn’t need sheets, anyway.”

Bern, my therapist, said he was poisoning the well. At least he could understand—his sister had also been alienated from her kids. My children’s therapists, however, told me that if a parent is truly connected, then they can never be alienated from their children. And that all I had to do was focus on my connection.

Bern said that was bullshit. I agreed then, and I still do now. If a stranger can brainwash an adult, why can’t a father brainwash a seven-year-old child?

“Your kids have been hearing this shit all their lives,” Bern pointed out in an appointment. “He has them believing that you’re chasing him around with a giant club. Think how that feels to them, to hear that all the time. ‘Oh, well, you know how your mom is,’ or ‘I’m sorry, guys, but we can’t stay at the zoo because your mom’s throwing a fit again about her parenting time—she just doesn’t understand us.’ How’s a six-year-old supposed to take that in? It becomes normal to them.” Bern paused and leaned forward just a bit for emphasis. “He’s poisoning the well.”

I always wanted people to understand that. But in a world that doesn’t believe in alienation and needs to see X-rays before the court system will believe you’ve been abused, it’s hard to talk to people about brainwashing and fire and Skittles.

It’s hard to find anyone who can hear.

I’ll never forget when I tried to talk to my new attorney about parental alienation for the very first time. He was annoyed before I’d said five words on the matter, but he sat back and crossed his arms and listened, rocking forward and back in his lawyer’s chair impatiently. When I was done explaining, he gave me the most typical response in the world.

“I don’t know about this alienation stuff, Helen. I just—I just don’t know. I do hear what you’re saying. And maybe he is a little possessive of the kids.” He nodded toward me to show me that he could give me that much. “But it just seems like if you were getting it right as a mother, then you wouldn’t be where you are. I just can’t see this happening to a good, steady mom.” He rocked back.

“So that’s something to think about.”

Note from the author: Despite low, scary moments when I thought I might lose my children entirely, my relationship with them is strong today. I’m sharing my story because there’s one critical factor that kept my ex from brainwashing them entirely and “winning” in his mind. Here’s the factor: despite the fact that the court would not even discuss parental alienation, they did eventually enforce my equal parenting time and told my ex to stop trying to take them outside of his time. Because of this, my children were able to experience me for themselves. I’m a good, loving, strong parent—and my protected time with them helped them remember that fact. It’s what saved everything. All I needed was the time.

I want court systems to protect the parenting time of alienated parents in spite of of the charm and manipulation of sociopathic alienators who claim it should be otherwise.

 

H.G. Beverly is the author of The Other Side of Charm and is currently working on her next book. This post can also be found on hgbeverly.com.



11 Comments on "Sociopaths and Parental Alienation"

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  1. gatitosmommy says:

    @DONNA:
    Did you receive the email and ‘story’ I sent you on this topic last December?



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  2. NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

    HG Beverly
    I am so happy to read that you have an authentic relationship with your children. It tells me that your children have a good heart, and are able to give love and receive love.

    I don’t share your good fortune. My beautiful daughter does not love me, and she does not want my love. She’s not a sociopath but she is disconnected to who I really am and what I think.

    Yes I grew up in an awful family but I had NO CLUE that someone who was known for being the “nicest guy in the world” could be so twofaced underhanded backstabbing sabotaging CRUEL. I did not know what I was dealing with. Everything done to me was so… VAGUE.

    SO… if I was THAT confused… imagine a darling little girl, freshfaced innocence. Open hearted and sweet, and wanting her new daddy to love and approve of her. And that daddy said mommy was controlling, didn’t want her to have any fun in life, was mean for making her do certain things, like homework and a house chore, that HE owned everything so everything I gave her came from him, that nothing I did was work so I was living off of him. That I was stupid. Proof of that was that I didn’t know things, things that she and he knew. That it was he and her against ME, the mean ol mom.

    In my defense, I had no idea he was talking this way to her. I thought, he doesn’t love me but at least he loves her and I want her to have the love of both parents so I encouraged their time together. I didn’t want to be one of those women who split a kid from their dad. Kids need BOTH parents I thought. So I did my mommy stuff thinking it would matter in the long run.

    I thought wrong, about almost everything.

    When daddy is a sociopath, a kid ends up with NO parent. They end up feeling isolated and scared and alone and a huge anxiety that the world is going to crash on them and no one is there to protect them, and that mom is weak because she has feelings and dad is strong because he WINS against mom every time. He WON because I did not know the battle I was in. If I knew then what I know now, my life and my strategy would have been a whole difference decision tree.



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    • terrorfromans-path says:

      Dear NotWhatHeSaidofMe,

      You hit the nail on the head – “When Daddy is a sociopath, a kid ends up with NO parent.” The rest of your paragraph spoke to EXACTLY what I have experienced. Just this morning, I visited my son’s school advisor. My precious son, a honor student since first grade, is now failing tenth grade. Dad reappeared after being gone for many years. With the father’s money (he hears a million a year), my son was wooed away from me. The father brainwashed my son to believe that I used to hit him (never spanked or hit either of my children), that I slept around (I am with one man for the past two and half years. My ex cheated on me the entire marriage while I was completely faithful). He was able to drag my child to a court appointed custody evaluator and lie, lie, lie. My son actually told the evaluator that when I drive I lose go into ranting episodes and pass out for five minutes!!!! That never happened and, if it did, would we not crash into something if I passed out for that long? Yet, the custody evaluator believed every word of it, despite interviewing my daughter who is 18 and made it clear that I never hit them and I am always home at night — always. The result of the evaluator’s findings was that my ex should have complete physical and legal custody of my son AND make all decisions for him. The verdict is not out since we don’t go to court until late April.

      Here is what is even more disturbing. The evaluator’s findings included running a background search on both my ex and me. He has a psych history of “severe depression” and “adjustment disorder” and I have no psych history. He has several criminal charges. I have none. His charges go back 13 years when we were married and he choked me and beat me. Fast forward to way after the divorce when he he began stalking me and harassing me. Hence, I filed charges and he was charged for violating a protective order and harrasment and electronic mail misuse. The custody evaluator dismissed his criminal history and stated that “he has a clear history except for the charges that are made by Ms. $$%% as though my claims are bogus.

      Since the child has been with the dad, he has had vomitting episodes, picks at his skin, his grades have fallen, and all interests have gone by the way side. NO ONE can help my son.

      My son knows I am his advocate, but he thinks his dad loves him. So one would have to ask how could my son believe such a thing since his dad left us, took all of the money and ignored the child for years? The dad has literally trained my son to believe otherwise and my son believes it!!

      If the ex’s goal is to hurt me, okay he has. The real tragedy is the child who was so honest, loving, gentle, excelled in school, and was involved in so many interests has changed into a liar, is violent, is failing at school and is isolated from his friends (I forget to mention that when he is not at school he is with the dad or at the dad’s apartment – alone for hours playing xbox.)



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      • terrorfromas-path – did your ex buy off the evaluator?



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        • Imara says:

          My absolute recommendation is that you send in an objection certificate to the file. You may want to ask for a CASA representative. The point is that before April you need to advocate for an evaluation done by a professional. Many times these evaluators are just young adults who do not have the educational background nor the life experience to make just recommendations. They get hired by for profit agencies who provide little to no training. Wishing you loads of good wishes!! If you see a therapist they need to write a letter on your behalf too!! Many of us have worked with the victims services departments and find them very helpful.



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        • terrorfromans-path says:

          Donna,

          I just saw your comment and FROZE. That is EXACTLY what my family, friends, the police, etc……. think. My ex is very well connected in the courthouse where our case has been heard. The village idiot would not turn a goldfish over to this guy and a custody evaluator did just that AND has suggested that I lose my parental rights. I have no clue how that happened. My daughter, almost 18, has been a lovely child (now young woman) who distanced herself from her father and has been a wonderful student and all around great human being with honor and integrity. I have been class parent, involved at the schools and never had a criminal issue. He has mental health and criminal charges – and the charges are for domestic abuse and she claimed that since all the charges were from me, they are bogus. WHAT?!?!?! The first one was back in November 2000, where I was severely choked and the police put that in the report. Years later, he harasses me, stalks me, and violates a protective order and this is the kind of person she turns a child over to?

          As shocked as I was with her decision, after I read Dr. Richard Warshak’s book, Divorce Poison, he said surprisingly alienators (who are usually borderlines of some kind) obtain custody of children at an alarmingly high rate.

          Ugh



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  3. NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

    HG Beverly
    That’s not right. I take it back. It’s not actually true that my daughter hates me. Rather, she doesn’t have any feeling for me. I am nothing to her.

    Oh, she rages at me, says terrible things. Untrue things. Things that rip my heart apart. But I do think I know why.

    She blames me for how he is, for how her father is to her.

    He told something terrible once, and she knew from what he said that he didn’t love her and never would. He told her that “what was wrong with her was that she was “like Me” (her mom).
    And she didn’t have to ask what that meant.
    She knew he didn’t love me, that I was unlovable, worth less than nothing. He refused to be honest with me but I know he told her how he felt about me.

    You see, while I lived with him, even though I didn’t know he was a sociopath, I knew something was missing in him. I thought it was just narcissism or that he was gay. But he definitely didn’t love me, and wanted me gone, nonexistent, destroyed. But by the time I realized he didn’t love ANYBODY, not even my beloved beautiful daughter… she was hostile to me. She was HIS ally, and she wanted me gone too. He had convinced her that they could be happy if I would just leave the family home. I wanted a divorce but I knew, because she was 12 then, that she would chose him in a divorce. And as a child of a pedophile, as a child who’d seen her father rape her sister, there was NO WAY I would leave my biological child with her stepfather. I knew he didn’t love her so yes, I suspected he would rape my baby if I didn’t stay and be vigilent.

    It was a terrible and very vulnerable place for me to be. The abuse escalated from there. I was assaulted all the time. And my darling daughter was part of the smear campaign against me, giving people fodder to laugh at me.

    It was my ex’s greatest triumph, that my daughter became one his biggest supporter to emotionally abuse me, rendered me into a mass of sobbing blob. A true nothing.

    When she found out that he was actually lying and was cheating on me, for a while she was decent to me, she realized he wasn’t as good or innocent a person as he had pretended to be. He used her as his beard, to meet up with other women, mothers of her classmates, and cheat. She found out he used her in that way, and she didn’t like it one bit.

    For a while, she spoke to me as if I were a person. But she would NOT let me tell her what he really was. I think she needs to believe he would have loved her if she wasn’t like me, and that as long as she works to be NOTHING like me, maybe that will make all the difference. She doesn’t understand. A sociopath doesn’t seek to love, the only outcome is destruction.

    So… I am a sentimental sort. She is not and goes out of her way to show she does not care about feelings. But she is like me in other ways, ways she doesn’t want to acknowledge. She is brilliant. For a stupid person, I have a high IQ. And I had a previous career where I was VERY accomplished. She LOVES critters. She has a rescue dog. She wants to give in the world in a way that matters to the well being of others. She is gifted, with an ability to see the bigger picture in people. She is so FUNNY, with a quirky sense of humor, one that once upon a time admitted, was like mine. The puns, the happy jokes. She LOVES and appreciates her man, a man with the qualities of a husband that makes any loving parent (me!) want for their precious daughter. She is accomplished and brave and kind to others.

    But not to me. Not to the one whom she thinks is the reason her father does not love her.

    All I ever wanted was for her to be loved. She’s SO amazing. And that… is how a sociopath “wins”. He severed the bond so that my daughter does not want my love… I know if my ex is ever in her life, it will not be to love her, it will be to destroy any love she has for another.

    The feeling that I know my daughter lives with… hurts me far more than anything he ever did to me (and believe me, only a LF member can imagine how bad it got.)

    Thanks for this article. I just wanted to put the truth in writing.



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    • Delores says:

      I could have written this word for word, situation by situation. I left when she was younger but it made no difference. He planted it in her head that we (she and I) never got along. I too thought that she needed him in her life even though he did not have any real love to give. Inspite of a lifetime of love and happiness together contradicting him, she believes him.



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  4. thick-of-it says:

    These experiences are so familiar, it documents the pattern of this personality disorder.
    Two occurrences resonate with me; the first being the reaction of a lawyer I encountered who informed me mine wasn’t a case of alienation since I still had access to my children. My inability to explain to her that the time we spent together was overshadowed with constant texting to the child from her spath. mother and the mother’s spath. partner, never allowing the child peace when she was with me. I was quite surprised where this lawyer explained to me that parent alienation was the catch phrase of the day, that everyone was screaming it and using it as a tool in court, that in reality I just needed to get over past hurts. Ha! The situation 8 months later is that I haven’t see or talked to my 13 year old daughter in 10 months! This very recommended lawyer obviously didn’t get it. Or maybe I couldn’t make her understand?
    The skittles! I instantly thought of the farce which is my daily court ordered phone call, I very seldom get through, maybe once in every 15 daily calls does the phone get answered. On one of these rare occasions where the phone actually got answered I managed to engage my daughter in some conversation. Her mother promptly threw a tea bag from across the table into the tea the child was already drinking. HAHAHA funny mommy, right?…. Moment with dad gone forever and parent alienation successful…. And that, in little moments just like that,is how it’s accomplished. How childhood’s are lost.



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  5. winifred says:

    For their entire lives my husbands ex sociopath wife alienated their 2 children from him, from when they were toddlers running towards their father to greet him home from work…. she would stop them dead in their tracks as they ran to him when he came in the door. People always said, “they will see her for what she is someday, when they grow up”, unfortunately they where assuming this was just a typical bitter divorce, no one ever has a clue what it is like to divorce a sociopath when you have children with them!
    The “children” are now 19 and 24…..married and in college and they have NOTHING to do with their father…..their “mother” lives to make sure of that. We dream about them having minds of their own once they grow up and leave the nest…NOT THE CASE! We didn’t see them graduate( they didn’t want us there, we didn’t go to his son’s wedding, (we had no idea it was taking place), and sad but true, when they have children of their own, my husband will NOT know his grandchildren! My husbands ex(Laura) is the QUEEN of PARENTAL ALIENATION! They have been divorced for over 11 yrs and she lives to destroy us and our relationships, too bad for her she has to go thru me! Yes, they lied with her, for her and to him! They preached religion out of one corner of their mouth and bold face lies out of the other corner…and it has worked for them…they too have society thinking they are victims, working the system just like their “mother”! It doesn’t go away or get better…all you can do it learn to live with it…and that too takes its toll! There are No winners here, none! Good Luck and God Bless Winifred



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  6. HGBeverly says:

    Hello, all,

    I have to admit that I’ve been following your comments (thank you so much for sharing), but I’ve had a hard time responding because of the pain that comes with parental alienation.

    It’s so incredibly painful.

    Betrayal and profound injustice and despair. Feeling helpless as your children are poisoned against you is something that no one should know.

    But so many of us do. And what shocks me is the way the system apparently supports it more consistently than I ever imagined.

    So I wanted to share this: last night, I finally watched The Hunger Games 3. Spoiler alert—I’m going to share the ending now. Because in the end, Peeta has been successfully brainwashed into attacking the love of his life, Katniss. We don’t question this. Peeta is an adult, and he’s strong. We all sit down in front of the screen and instantly accept the idea that a strong man could quickly become brainwashed into fearing and even murdering his love.

    But we (meaning trained clinicians) often refuse to believe that children—who are malleable and looking for direction—could be brainwashed into rejecting a parent.

    I just wanted to share that. Because I think it needs to change.

    Thank you all for commenting. And I wish all of you the very best, including reunification and/or peace, as your future unfolds.

    Much appreciation,

    HG



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